Brazil death toll hits 50,000 as coronavirus bedevils Latin America

World’s 2nd worst-hit country passes grim mark as Bolsonaro insists lockdown would be more costly; cases, fatalities mount across continent

Aerial view showing graves in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus on June 21, 2020. (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP)
Aerial view showing graves in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus on June 21, 2020. (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP)

Brazil registered its 50,000th death from the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, underlining Latin America’s desperate struggle to contain the disease.

Brazil is the second worst-affected country behind the United States, and the spread of COVID-19 is accelerating across Latin America, with Mexico, Peru and Chile also hard-hit as death tolls soar and healthcare facilities are pushed toward collapse.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been fiercely criticized for comparing the virus to a “little flu,” argues the economic impact of shutdowns is often worse than the virus itself.

But Mexico City has delayed reopening markets, restaurants, malls, hotels and places of worship, with the country now recording over 20,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Highlighting the region’s woes, Peru passed 8,000 deaths on Sunday despite preparing to reopen shopping malls on Monday.

In one upbeat story from Latin America, an Argentine sailor took 85 days to cross the ocean from Portugal alone in his small sailboat to return home with his aging parents, arriving in time for Father’s Day.

Cemetery workers exhume the remains of people buried three years ago at the Vila Formosa cemetery, which does not charge families for the gravesites, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

The World Health Organization on Sunday reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases by its count, at more than 183,000 new cases in the previous 24 hours.

The UN health agency said on Sunday that Brazil led the way with 54,771 cases tallied and the US next at 36,617. India confirmed 15,400 new cases.

Experts said rising case counts can reflect multiple factors including more widespread testing as well as broader infection.

Scientists are still learning about the virus, its symptoms and the way it spreads — and a vaccine still remains a distant possibility.

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